Vancouver Canucks coach John Tortorella is no stranger to Bob Hartley.
The two coached against each other in the Southeast Division while Hartley was at the helm of the Atlanta Thrashers (2002-2008) while Tortorella stood behind the bench of the Tampa Bay Lightning (2001-2008)
But despite spending five seasons opposite each other in close proximity, the latter surprised Hartley when he got a little too close during the first intermission of Calgary’s 3-2 shootout loss on Saturday in Vancouver.
“I like Torts,” Hartley began. “We basically came up together. Like I said [Saturday] night, I just don’t understand, especially him in our hallway. I don’t know. I lifted my eyes and there he was. I just don’t know what went through his mind.”
The results were instant as gloves hit the ice before the puck did off the opening faceoff.
McGrattan and Sestito renewed acquaintances for the second time this season, while Jones with Weise and Westgarth with Lain also tangled. They were joined in simultaneous fights by defencemen Chris Butler and Jason Garrison alongside Ladislav Smid and Kevin Bieksa.
Eight ejections and 152 minutes in penalties were assessed before play resumed, but 19:58 of game time and over an hour of real time wasn’t enough time to cool Tortorella, who greeted Calgary in the hall outside of the Flames dressing room at the intermission.
“I don’t know how many games I’ve coached against Torts -- American league, NHL,” Hartley said. “We were in the same division and nothing ever happened like this.
“Everyone in the lineup is an NHL player and it’s not because you put a Brian McGrattan on the starting lineup that automatically something has to happen. He has as much a right as anyone and on our part, we’ve been promoting that hard work and commitment to the team will open some other doors for you, might get you some bigger roles, bigger responsibilities.
“Whether in Colorado, Atlanta, I put fourth-line guys on the ice and absolutely nothing happened,” Hartley said. “How many times this year (did) other teams put fourth-line guys against our team and nothing happened. It happened.
“We can’t go back.”
Hartley was handed a $25,000 fine by the National Hockey League on Monday for his role for the incident.
In issuing the suspension, NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations, Colin Campbell stated: "We are holding Mr. Hartley responsible for the actions of Flames right wing Kevin Westgarth, who took the game's opening faceoff and attempted to instigate a premeditated fight with an unwilling opponent -- the Canucks' Kevin Bieksa."
Tortorella, who made his way down the hall towards the Flames locker room looking for Hartley during the first intermission on Saturday, was suspended for 15 days, without pay, for his actions.
"Mr. Tortorella's actions in attempting to enter the Calgary Flames locker room after the first period were both dangerous and an embarrassment to the League," said NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell. "Coaches in the NHL bear the responsibility of providing leadership, even when emotions run high, and Mr. Tortorella failed in his responsibility to the game."
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